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Recurrent prostate cancer

Can prostate cancer come back?

Recurrent prostate cancer means the cancer has come back despite treatment.

If prostate specific antigen or PSA levels begin to rise at any time after treatment, this may indicate a recurrence of the cancer.

After a prostate cancer diagnosis, 84% of men now survive for 10 years or longer.

However, in 1 in 3 cases prostate cancer returns some time after treatment.

How is a prostate cancer recurrence detected?

Regular PSA blood tests for prostate cancer are arranged after surgery or radiotherapy treatment has finished to check for signs of the cancer returning.

Further tests may be arranged depending on the PSA results and any other symptoms.

What affects the chances of prostate cancer recurrence?

Some research suggests that even after treatment, prostate cancer cells may somehow hide or stay dormant in the body before multiplying again in the future.

It is also possible for the cancer to have spread further in the body than was first thought.

Doctors cannot accurately predict whether prostate cancer will return in individual men. However, some risk factors for prostate cancer recurrence are known.

PSA levels, staging and grading of the cancer when it was diagnosed will have informed specialists how aggressive the cancer was, and how likely it would be to spread. This may affect the chances of cancer returning.

Concerns about prostate cancer returning can have an impact on a man after treatment, but your care team can help with these worries and any stress, anxiety or depression it may cause.

What type of follow-up treatments are recommended?

If prostate cancer is found to have returned, the decisions on follow-up treatment will depend on several factors, including:

  • Treatment already received
  • The staging and grading of the cancer
  • The location of the cancer, in the prostate, near the prostate or more distant
  • The man's age, general health and other health conditions

Second-line treatments will be planned either to cure the recurrent prostate cancer or slow its growth.

Treatments to remove the cancer include:

  • External beam radiotherapy
  • Permanent seed brachytherapy (radioactive 'seeds' permanently implanted in the prostate)
  • High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)
  • Cryotherapy (freezing therapy)
  • Radical prostatectomy - prostate removal operation

Treatments to manage the cancer include:

  • Hormone therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Newer treatments may be offered as part of clinical trials.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on August 15, 2016

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